Two Historic Montclair Homes, On Lloyd and Undercliff Roads, Will Be Demolished if Zoning Application Approved

Two historic Montclair homes — one at 14 Undercliff Road, the other at 172 Lloyd Road — may be demolished if Montclair Zoning Board approves an application by 14 Undercliff LLC.

An application was filed with the Montclair Planning Department to combine these two adjacent properties, according to Montclair Township communications director Katya Wowk, but because there are two historic homes on the properties, the Historic Preservation Commission will first need to review the application, likely at its November meeting. Then, the application will be sent to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for review, possibly at its December meeting.

172 Lloyd Road, Montclair
Interior – 172 Lloyd Road, Montclair

172 Lloyd Road sold in July 2018 for $3,400,000. The 1907 center hall colonial is situated on 2.4 acres of land bordering Eagle Rock Reservation. Taxes in 2016 were $50,069.

14 Undercliff, a single family home built as a Victorian in 1865 and then later remodeled as a Tudor in 1924, was sold in January 2018 for $3,885,000. Taxes in 2017 were $68,097 for the property situated on just over 3 acres.

Combining the two properties would result in an almost six-acre compound with stunning NYC views. A contractor, with permits for their removal, took down three trees at 14 Undercliff Road, in July, Wowk says. The construction project manager (Petry Engineering, LLC) told the township that no additional trees are currently scheduled for removal and the trees tagged on the property are for site survey purposes.

14 Undercliff Road

A major selling point for Montclair remains its character and world class classic architecture, says Montclair Planning Board member Martin Schwartz.

“We used to have a 75-year, no knock down law that protected older homes from just this kind of McMansion building speculation. Instead, the Town Planner convinced our 2012 Council to kill that local law, ostensibly to accommodate language changes in State regulations. However, we really didn’t have to do it. No one litigated. We could have just kept that local ordinance in place, or created new light preservation residential zones that maintained a ‘no knock down’ enforcement,” says Schwartz.

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  1. These houses are not visible from the public right of way, so modifying them doesn’t fall under the local ordinance. Look on the bright side of it, the owners will not be sending any kids to our public schools.

  2. I’m torn between the idea of an upgrade of a real estate valve coming to the neighborhood and the fact that two estate properties that are too historic to destroy, will be lost. Initially, before the suburban estate properties that we know today, the mountain ridge was dotted with castle like constructions on large parcels. Large estate properties at the top of the mountain on the market however still don’t seem to sell easily, even for under $10mil.

    The two houses coming down are in the DEP Historic Resource archives and in a historic district.

    14 Undercliff was Montclair’s 1800’s developer Nason’s family’s house. Its one of the very historic and emblematic properties in town. It was Victorian and then it was tudorized upon Nolen’s recommendation after the Municipal Art Society’s 1909 Nolan Report., (Montclair’s first Master Plan that shaped Montclair as we know it today). Nason, was a successful businessman and entrepreneur who came to Montclair in 1859, and built 14 houses along the slopes of South Mountain Avenue. He was the developer of the South Mountain estate section. He opened up Hillside Avenue at his own expense and laid out Gates Avenue, which she named after his wife’s family.
    I loved visiting that house back in the ‘80s when it was still all original inside. My dear neighbor Lib K grew up there. She said that back when she was a Kimberly girl in the 30’s, the NYC view consisted mainly of the Statue of Liberty and a few downtown skyscrapers. She said that it was also very hard for friends to visit her after school because car couldn’t make it up the steep hill. Her dad, Captain Gracey, renovated the house from Victorian to it’s present tudor styling. He allowed the township to use the property for the start point for “coasting” or sleigh riding events, because of its altitude. All of the roads were closed off down to Orange Road for this winter event. This house and 72 South Mountain Avenue are the only Nason houses that have survived. Lib studied interior design in NYC and was very talented. She used to tease me about being a preservationist, and say… “What was ugly then, is still ugly now.”

    172 Lloyd it was meticulously restored a few years ago.
    It has an amazing story… (There is a sad local legend about why decades ago, the second story windows were all boarded up… apparently because the owner’s son went down on a plane in WWII… and she didn’t want to see the sky anymore) .. There was always and old Porsche stuck halfway up the driveway for years.

    There is an amazing baronial estate from the 20’s on the market down the road, Highwall, the Elmer Bobst House. The price tag seems too low for such valuable architecture.,+the+developer+of+montclair&source=bl&ots=SZw6gjZg1C&sig=q_KDaBso4gKMYv0om6MpxPkft8U&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjXx8jk5urdAhXQhOAKHbHPDXsQ6AEwBXoECAMQAQ#v=onepage&q=nason%2C%20the%20developer%20of%20montclair&f=false

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